Sony PS3 and consumer electronics HELL!

Summary:Want HDMI 1080p output from your Sony PlayStation 3? No problem, you'll just need this $100 cable and a non-existent HDMI 1.3 interface on your HDTV. Welcome to HDMI consumer electronics hell.

[Update 10/25/2006: This blog incorrectly blamed the HDMI standard for some of the problems. Title and body has been corrected.] In another case of consumer rip-offs, Humphrey Cheung is reporting that Sony will not be including an HDMI cable with the Sony PS3 and cites Sony's own website as the source. Cheung points out that Best Buy offers HDMI cables for $60 to $200 which is a bit of a nasty surprise for shoppers. Note that a quick search on the internet will yield lesser-name online vendors that offer $13 6' HDMI cables though you'll probably still have to pay at least $10 for shipping and handling. In my experience, this is only where the nightmare begins. I have a Toshiba 72" DLP HDTV capable of displaying 1080p (or that's what it's advertised as), the only catch is that the HDMI interface on it (as with most HDTVs on the market) only supports 1080i. Apparently, you would have to have a 29-pin HDMI 1.2a type B connector or an HDMI 1.3 connector to be able to support 1080p. [This is an implementation issue of Toshiba on the HDMI interface and not a problem in the HDMI standard itself. HDMI 1.2a type B and 1.3 allows HDMI to go higher than 1080p while existing implementations of HDMI all support 1080p. My apologies to the HDMI standards body. Some have told me that this myth was started by the TV manufacturers to pass the blame on to the standard rather to hide their own shortcomings.] Most of the HDTVs on the market use the older 19-pin connectors and this kind of information isn't obvious. DVI which is several years old has always supported very high resolutions at progressive scan, so it's frustrating that they electronics industry is shoving this stuff (to keep it civilized) on the consumer which highly technical people have a hard time understanding. If I want to view 1080p, I would need some kind of proprietary IEEE 1394 firewire device that is supported by the onboard embedded computer in the HDTV. When I plugged in my Sony HDR-HC1, the Toshiba recognized the device but told me it wasn't supported so I'm forced to go back to analog RGB component inputs and standard RCA for the audio. That's a total of 5 cables on each end I have to plug in and I know people who are even scared of plugging in a single cable. Then I got the bright idea to connect a powerful desktop computer to the 72" Toshiba DLP [Update 9:20PM: This is a 3 month old HDTV. I am clarifying this because someone suggested that this was too old] using the DVI output via DVI-HDMI cable to the HDMI input of the HDTV. Not only was it 1080i (interlaced) input which was ugly as hell for a computer display, the shadow and bright areas where horrible compared to the cheapest LCD computer monitor. All I got was a blotch of black and a blotch of white with no subtle details. Now this isn't just the Toshiba DLP, I noticed this on almost all of the DLP HDTVs in the store and the Toshiba was actually one of the better ones showing an up-converted DVD in the store. To add insult to injury, the Toshiba unit was supposed to support resolutions of 1920x1080. While it did this, it was over scanned by tens of pixels on all sides and chopped off the edge of the image. I can barely see the top of the Windows taskbar or any of the top control buttons of a window. Now couple this with aspect-ratio hell and it's enough to drive anyone crazy! For video playback, these kinds of issues are considered normal because TV technology has never come close to computer displays in terms of detail and faithful color rendering. So hooking up a computer up to an HDTV will be okay for the purpose of displaying video and maybe some gaming but not much more than that. When you go in to a store, there is no way to tell which monitor is better because some of the HDTVs have to deal with more glare and lousy input sources. The online review sites unfortunately don't help because they don't tell you these kinds of issues and they don't really show you how good or how bad the color and distortion issues are. If this is the future of living room convergence, it is doomed to failure.

Topics: Toshiba

About

George Ou, a former ZDNet blogger, is an IT consultant specializing in Servers, Microsoft, Cisco, Switches, Routers, Firewalls, IDS, VPN, Wireless LAN, Security, and IT infrastructure and architecture.

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